The Miami Dolphins took a long stride last week by shoring up the corner back position with re-signing Brent Grimes, a 2013 pro Bowler. Grimes was not a signing that was heralded like the acquisition of Mike Wallace, but he certainly became the prize of the Dolphins 2013 spending spree.
However, even though Grimes’ contract assures his return to add to his 60 tackles and a team high of four interceptions, the Dolphins are still thin at the cornerback position.
Dimitri Patterson overachieved for Miami early into the 2013 season but his struggles to stay healthy during the end of the season lead to his release yesterday. 2013 rookie draft choices, Will Davis and Jamar Taylor produced very little for the Dolphins last season and Nollan Caroll is a free agent that will most likely be a casualty due to the impending signing of Louis Delmas.
The good news for the Dolphin organization is that this years free agent pool is full of veteran corner backs, but many of the big names come with a lot of baggage. The risk might be worth the reward at this position as it did with Grimes just a year ago.
The collection of free agent corners include a pair of Cromartie’s, Aqib Talib, Charles Tillman, Asante Samuel, and yes, even former first round selection for Miami, Vonate Davis.
Between the Cromartie’s, Antonio may be the most realistic options for many teams including Miami as his cousin Domique Rogers will receive a serious push by Denver to re-sign him. Antonio Cromartie has ties to Florida as he played for Florida State. The same is also true for ex-UCF star Asante Samuel.
Samuel, much like Grimes in 2012, played for the Atlanta Falcons in 2013. A Fort Lauderdale native and 4 time Pro Bowler, Samuel is coming off a down year. He is one year removed for a stellar season where he finished with 18 pass defenses and five interceptions. At 33 years old he could still certainly help Miami on a short term deal, if the price is right.
Charles Tillman is an All-Pro from the Chicago Bears, also 33 years old and a free agent. In 2013 Tillman had three interceptions through 8 games but would likely bring a steeper price tag than the previous mentioned.
Vontae Davis and Aqib Talib both have their own connections to the Miami brass, but neither are particularly good enough to go after. Talib has been less than a model citizen off the field and that has to throw some red flags up even though he is a menace to opposing quarterbacks on the field.
When new Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey was in Tampa, he was part of the selection round table that took Talib 20th overall in the 2008 draft. Even with that history, it wasn’t a pleasant one so it is unlikely that Hickey will risk making that same mistake again twice with Talib.
Vontae Davis is a former first round selection for the Dolphins that didn’t quite live to expectations. He was taken 25th overall in 2009 playing three seasons before being sent to the Colts for a second round pick trade before the 2012 season. Davis comes with 13 career interceptions in five years but the odds of him returning to the teal and orange are slim, not to mention that the Colts have already expressed interest in re-signing him.
Cornerback is definitely a position that Mimi needs to address before the start of the 2014 campaign and there are a number of options out there in free agency. The formula that brought in brent grimes in 2013 is not necessarily a blueprint for success, but if the price is right, the return on investment might be worth it when considering a player like Antonio Cromartie or Asante Samuel.
While the headline on the outside of the secondary will be held by Grimes again in 2014, Davis and Taylor remain the unknowns. Taking a chance on Pro Bowl veterans might not work out as well as it did with Grimes, but the lack of depth and experience in Miami ‘s cornerback position, it may be a risk well worth taking.